In early June, nine journalism professors gathered in El Paso to learn new multimedia storytelling skills while exploring life on the U.S., Mexico border. They came from Hispanic-serving Institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to participate in the 2022 Dow Jones News Fund Multimedia Training Academy hosted at the University of Texas at El Paso from June 4 to June 9.
The academy is a boot camp reporting project where participants learn and refresh their digital media skills as they produce real news stories about the El Paso community for Borderzine.com. Instructors bring these skills back to their classrooms across the country to help their students prepare for jobs in today’s media industry.
The academy began on Saturday with sessions on photo composition, audio reporting and production, followed by a trip to the Downtown art and farmers market to practice their skills. On Sunday, the professors learned the fundamentals of quality video, then went to the El Paso Zoo for a hands-on exercise in shooting video and gathering interviews from El Pasoans about what the zoo means to them. On the third day, the trainees spent the day in the field in teams with their coaches working on their final stories for the workshop.
The stories they produced looked at resilience and adaptability in El Paso County. Here’s what they captured:
- Drought in the Lower Valley – A look at how farmers, residents and conservationists are facing challenges brought by record drought in El Paso’s Lower Valley along the Rio Grande.
- Economic development along the Mission Trail – An update on the growth of business and community along the historic Camino Real east of El Paso.
- Segundo Barrio’s Sacred Heart Church restoration efforts – For generations, Sacred Heart Church has been the heart of Segundo Barrio, but it is facing the challenges of age.
- El Paso Makes – Exploring a major initiative that seeks to expand high-tech manufacturing opportunities in the Borderland.
The Multimedia Training Academy, a program of the Dow Jones News Fund, has been hosted annually at UTEP since 2010. The 2022 project was the first in-person academy on the UTEP campus since 2019, before the pandemic led to cancellation of the 2021 workshop. In 2021, the academy was conducted virtually.
“The immersive, hands-on nature of the academy is its strength. We learn in the lab and then we go out and do. It’s the best way to learn,” said Rick Brunson, a participant in the 2022 academy and a senior instructor at the Nicholson School of Communication and Media at the University of Central Florida.
Here are the instructors who participated in the 2022 academy and their institutions:
Ericka Blount – Howard University
Rick Brunson – University of Central Florida
Kay Colley – Texas Wesleyan University
Geoff Campbell – UT Arlington
Jayne Cubbage – Bowie State
Gregory Gondwe – California State San Bernadino
Md Didarul “Manik” Islam – University of New Mexico
Faith Sidlow – Fresno State University
Valerie White – Florida A&M University
The program director for the 2022 academy is Kate Gannon, director of Borderzine and associate professor of practice of journalism in the Department of Communication at UTEP. Assistant director is Lourdes M. Cueva Chacón, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University. Trainers are Doug Mitchell, NPR consultant Next-Gen Radio Project manager; USA Today Network diversity reporter Monica Ortiz Uribe; and broadcast TV veteran Andrew Valencia, now journalism instructor at Americas High School. Program assistant is Antonio Villasenor Baca, a graduate of the UTEP multimedia journalism program.
The vision of the Dow Jones News Fund is to promote “a robust news media staffed by well-trained innovative journalists who reflect America’s diversity.”
Borderzine, based on the UTEP campus, is an innovative journalism education initiative and online publishing platform that prepares young multicultural journalists for jobs in 21st century news media.
The University of Texas at El Paso is one of the largest Hispanic-serving institutions in the country, with a student body that is over 80% Hispanic. UTEP is an R1 research university, a designation given to the top 5% of colleges and universities nationally.